Help fixing my paddle

G

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I'm more of a nuts and bolts kind of guy and I'm a bit challenged when it comes to woodwork (some say I am challenged in many other ways as well)...

I have a relatively young FoxWorx blade that I have cracked through the poly down to the wood. The paddle is in tact, not broken, but the poly is destroyed. This happens because I use the gunnel as my fulcrum (aluminum on my Swift) to J and pry.

Can I just sand it down in that area and re-apply some poly? Any tips to keep if from cracking again besides changing my technique?

What type should I use (I have no knowledge of wood coating materials)?

Or should I consider sanding it all the way down and applying some glass and resin to reinforce that area?
 
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From what I see on their website, it seems that most of their paddles have 4 oz cloth on the blades and the shafts are epoxy resin coated.
From the description of how you use your paddle, just recoating the shaft will likely result in the same thing happening again...
Do you have any glass laying around? A single wrap of 4 oz in that fulcrum area should go a long way to prevent repeat injuries. Of course, you'll need a few ounces of epoxy resin too. Have you ever worked with glass and resin? If not, a few minutes practice on a test piece will make you an expert, ot at least give you the confidence to fix that paddle.
Once you are comfortable with the glass and resin, you can move on the make your own paddles. And after that, your own canoe, or stable of canoes.
I have attached a photo of one of the paddles that I built 20 years ago...that paddle (and its siblings) have been stepped on, tossed, dragged, scraped, and otherwise generally abused and are still hanging in there just fine.
I should think with the right reinforcement, your Foxworks paddles should last a lifetime.
DSC_8920.JPG
 
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l'oiseau,

Sanding and revarnishing sounds like all you need if the wood isn't damaged. If you are going to continue to leverage against the aluminum gunwale a fiberglass sleeve would be helpful. I know some paddle makers do this as standard construction to protect the wood. I have also seen people use a leather wrap, usually on more tradtional style paddles to protect the area from similar use. Murat details how he applied a leather wrap on his blog that I myself may try as a winter project.

My paddles are mostly solid wood and came with an oil based varnish or are oiled. I have some laminated paddles with glass and polyurethane. I was made to understand that the poly will not adhere to oil based products. Most likely Fox uses poly, but you may want to check with them. I have a quart each of poly and oil based varnish for yearly maintenance, and both came from Lowe's and work fine.

Barry
 
G

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Thank you gents.

I may try to wrap it myself or sub-contract it out to a pro.

Stripperguy,

I have your disease and I'm trying not to exploit it with boating. My last madness involved tube audio. I get submerged, have to figure out how everything ticks, then wind up making my own - and when I do, they are never good enough, so I make more!

A nice, medium-high impedance, 350V DC shock brought me back to reality because I was getting too cocky playing the guitar and tuning amps at the same time (guitar strings are grounded! Ouch!) and I started to slow down on the amps... but imagine being able to tweak your boats WHILE you paddled them!

I've been avoiding woodworking for a while, mainly due to tool up cost to get started, but also due to immersion in other hobbies, and also partly due to garage space.

I did once buy a dovetail jig for making amp and speaker cabs but my wife knocked it onto the garage floor and bent it pretty good before I got to try it :(
 
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If I understand aright what is wrong with your paddle, much the same thing happened to mine. I diluted some Valspar varnish with thinner so it would penetrate very well and wrapped the damaged area with cotton twine. Once the twine was where I wanted it for sure, I painted on the varnish. When it was near to dry I pressed down the surface of the twine making it smoother and more compressed. For this I used a big deep well socket.
I painted on several coats, I don't remember how many, until I was satisfied.



This is what it looks like.



This is how you start the wrap, the end that will be buried I fuzz out the three threads so it won't make so much of a bump under the wrapping.



This is how you end it, that smaller thread will pull the end of the cotton twine back under the wraps and hold it secure. Once the varnish has dried it becomes very hard and secure.



I don't know if this is a start or finish, they both look the same. If you haven't done this kind of wrap before, you might want to practice a little bit. I looked to see if I could tell where the wear is from the gunnel, couldn't find it. I suppose if it did show wear I might paint on more varnish, and if it ever wears out I'd just do the whole thing again.

Best Wishes, Rob
 
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I do the same as Rob, only I use paracord (550 cord). I strip the inner strands out and use just the cover which flattens out nicely as you wrap it. Not quite as bulky as round cord or twine. A friend sews thin leather on his paddles similar to the chafe protection sewn onto oars. It all works. I am constantly rubbing the gunwales with the paddle and need the protection on the loom.
 
G

Guest

Guest
I'm more of a nuts and bolts kind of guy and I'm a bit challenged when it comes to woodwork (some say I am challenged in many other ways as well)...

I have a relatively young FoxWorx blade that I have cracked through the poly down to the wood. The paddle is in tact, not broken, but the poly is destroyed. This happens because I use the gunnel as my fulcrum (aluminum on my Swift) to J and pry.

[snip]

I sorta hate to second-guess you here, but maybe you could try using correct paddling technique instead of levering off the gunwale. I realize that won't fix your paddle, but it will help prevent future paddle damage. The levering action increases your chances of a capsize, not to mention damage to your paddle. Try using a pitch stroke instead of a J, and lift the blade upward at the end of it. And if you must pry, rotate your torso to the point where you can put the blade against the hull. I mean the whole blade flat against the boat. Then do little "bump" pries from that position, each "bump" moving the paddle no more than 6-8 inches from the boat. It's a bit like rowing.
 
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I might have thought that it would only require a "correct" technique and you would no longer wear on the shaft of the paddle; but then I saw a video with Hoop, and he does the same thing.
He is a fellow who goes on some of the most amazing extended trips solo, produces a variety of wonderful videos illustrating various aspects of our canoeing world. In one he showed how to do a stroke, not the "J", where all the correction was done underwater, and the paddle never leaves the water. Not surprisingly, I've forgotten the name of the thing. Anyway, while watching, I noticed he has some sort of protecting sleeve on his paddle.
Now, in just no aspect can I measure myself against the accomplishments of a fellow like Hoop, but I was tickled to see that we both seem to bang up our paddles in the same place!
Gavia, your suggestion was gently poised, and I'm sure no one took umbrage, but I'd suggest that there may be times where the word of the "experts" may be subjected to reexamination to our advantage.

Actually, in my minds eye I can conjure up a harried instructor with a gaggle of enthusiastic scouts, new to canoes. With their paddles they are beating out a aluminum anvil chorus on the sides of their Grumman canoes while splashing out a fledgling "J" stroke. He blow his whistle and shrieks "Don't let your paddle touch the canoe!"
Thus is a hallowed canoeing tradition formed!

Best Wishes, Rob
 
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Prying off the gunwale is a standard technique for many of us who are long distance trippers. You have to understand that the correction is not a huge movement, but merely a flick of the wrist as the grip hand turns downward accompanied by a small pry as the power face of the paddle turns. I understand that there are people who don't pry with their J, but I haven't paddled with any of them, with the exception of those solo paddlers who make the boat go straight with no correction strokes.

I stay away from paddles with synthetic shafts because they do not like the continual prying. My own paddles will wear away the varnish at the point of friction, but at the end of the season, I revarnish them anyway. Same goes for the gunwales, and some of my canoes see a couple of thousand kilometers a year. On wood paddles I don't see the need for the re-inforcement of the wood with bindings, other than for the aesthetic appeal. Of course, I usually break paddles fairly frequently, so I don't develop an attachment to them, I just chuck them on the fire and build a new one.
 
G

Guest

Guest
I sorta hate to second-guess you here, but maybe you could try using correct paddling technique instead of levering off the gunwale. I realize that won't fix your paddle, but it will help prevent future paddle damage. The levering action increases your chances of a capsize, not to mention damage to your paddle. Try using a pitch stroke instead of a J, and lift the blade upward at the end of it. And if you must pry, rotate your torso to the point where you can put the blade against the hull. I mean the whole blade flat against the boat. Then do little "bump" pries from that position, each "bump" moving the paddle no more than 6-8 inches from the boat. It's a bit like rowing.

I also have to disagree because I learned this technique from watching Bill Mason do it. I also have seen many other noted paddlers do it.

It may not be the best for the paddle, but it is the most comfortable way to J for me. Like others say, I don't pry hard unless I want the boat to turn hard. Also the power face position varies depending on speed making it a very stable maneuver i.e. when going slow or at rest I pry nearly vertical, when moving the blade is far behind my hip and my front hand is low so the paddle isn't as deep in the water.

I used to pitch but I found for long periods of paddling it was torture. It puts a lot of stress on your lower arm and that really wears me out for the long haul. I see some people place their hand on the gunnel and pry of their hand but that motion is not as smooth for me.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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There are two discussions now going here: touching up the shaft and single blade correction technique.

I don't have much to add regarding touch up. Most recently for my favorite wood paddles I have just been touching up with a Minwax wipe-on varnish. It's easier and less drippy than brushing, dries faster, and obviously doesn't require a brush to fiddle with and clean. I don't usually bother with sanding. The shafts of many of my cedar and other softwood paddles are quite dented or even "boned" flat by repeated dents.

As to single blade technique, it sort of depends on how much of it you want to learn. If you have a correction technique that makes you happy, with or without gunwale prying, and you don't want to learn another, then just enjoy it.

My personal view on gunwale prying for correction is twofold. My primary view is that I should be able to correct with a single blade in a variety of ways -- J stroke, Canadian stroke, pitch stroke, C stroke, Indian stroke -- without prying off the gunwale. It doesn't matter whether I'm paddling in the "wilderness" or the town reservoir. It doesn't matter what boat I'm paddling. I feel I should be fully capable of doing all corrections without a pry as my primary stroke.

My secondary view is that gunwale prying is also a legitimate correction technique, which I resort to for a change of pace on long trips or for a more powerful stroke in certain wind and wave conditions. Thus, I don't agree with dogmatists who insist that gunwale prying is some sort of technical or even moral evil. (I also don't agree with some of the assertions about vertical paddles and stacked hands, but that is another subject.)

Gunwale prying for correction is, of course, hard on paddles and even on wood gunwales. Since it is only a secondary or optional technique for me, I would tend to use it less on non-wood gunwales and with carbon shaft paddles. I have gone completely to carbon ZRE paddles in my solo canoes and use occasional gunwale pry corrections without fear.

I am actually in Alaska right now and have been using rental Carlisle paddles, which are plastic and aluminum. I hadn't used Carlisles in about 30 years, and have probably spoken ill of them during that interim. They are working out just fine. I am now convinced that my technique, which has improved dramatically over those 30 years, is much more important to my successful enjoyment of canoeing than the the type or brand of paddle I use. The Carlisles are great for heroic pries in the stern of a Penobscot and for poling and pushing out of glacial silt and gravel and off of rocks.
 
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G

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Despite the arguments of technique that have ensued and the proposed solutions to fix my issue, I believe I have found the path of least resistance. I was told by the manufacturer they would fix it for free, so I firmly assert my right to minimize my potential energy as do systems in nature.

I probably should have checked that route before posting anything as it would have minimized the energy of the forum. I thank all that have proposed solutions and may refer to them in the future because I don't plan on stopping my current method of paddling.

I have not worked long on my paddling technique but I have found one that is very comfortable for me - I had thought prying off the gunnels was a sin until I watched the Bill Mason videos and tried it for myself. After some practice I found myself using the natural fulcrum that I had rather than trying to support the load with my arm, and thus more directly transferring the yawing forces to the canoe, rather than through my entire body.

I am a pretty avid mechanic and I will relate it this way. I never once used a pry bar with my hand as the fulcrum, so I don't know why I thought it mechanically suitable to do such with a paddle. Once I saw someone else do it, and someone who was instructing me, I rationalized it as being OK when in fact mechanics told me all along.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I am a pretty avid mechanic and I will relate it this way. I never once used a pry bar with my hand as the fulcrum, so I don't know why I thought it mechanically suitable to do such with a paddle.

Mason does pry off the gunwale at times in his videos, which I often recommend and link, but I doubt it was his primary way of regular correction. From his narrations I suspect the Canadian stroke was his favorite method of correction.

I don't quibble with your personal preference, but if you are interested in mechanics, you might ask yourself why no marathon canoe racer, Olympic sprint canoe racer, whitewaer slalom canoe racer or whitewater downriver canoe racer regularly corrects with a gunwale pry. They, too, are interested in mechanics and seem to have reached a consensus conclusion.
 
G

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I don't quibble with your personal preference, but if you are interested in mechanics, you might ask yourself why no marathon canoe racer, Olympic sprint canoe racer, whitewaer slalom canoe racer or whitewater downriver canoe racer regularly corrects with a gunwale pry. They, too, are interested in mechanics and seem to have reached a consensus conclusion.

Well of course that is a simple question. It is more efficient in the forward direction to use a pitch, but it is less effective at yawing the boat. I can pitch, but I choose not to because it is not a relaxing stroke and I'm not racing. I don't drive my race car the same as my street car, and I mean that from experience.

I use a Canadian stroke as well but it only works for minor correction with my boat. If I need more correction to battle wind or waves I find the pry much more useful. Even with the Canadian stroke the paddle often touches the top of the gunwale on recovery. I suspect it less efficient as well because correction force is directly in the opposite sense as the forward motion of the boat. It is natural and relaxing when you get in a rhythm.

I'm not good enough to make a Canadian work solo. For my skill right now it is a C or a J.

As for whitewater racers, I don't even know that those 'canoes' have what we would call a gunnel. They are more of a kayak paddled with a single blade from what I have seen.
 
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I should add my philosophy with canoeing is 180° from those racing boats. My goals is to minimize impact on my body and travel as far as possible with the least amount of stress on my body and joints. I have shoulder issues and any extra stress on them is unwelcome. This maximizes my enjoyment factor.

The goal of athletes is to push their bodies as hard as they can, often to the point of failure. I don't prefer to use them as my role model for canoe tripping.

Comparing my paddling to those of racers would be like comparing a VW Bus to a Porsche 911. Similar in someways, but in no means designed to achieve the same goals.
 
G

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I should add my philosophy with canoeing is 180° from those racing boats. My goals is to minimize impact on my body and travel as far as possible with the least amount of stress on my body and joints. I have shoulder issues and any extra stress on them is unwelcome. This maximizes my enjoyment factor.

The goal of athletes is to push their bodies as hard as they can, often to the point of failure. I don't prefer to use them as my role model for canoe tripping.

Comparing my paddling to those of racers would be like comparing a VW Bus to a Porsche 911. Similar in someways, but in no means designed to achieve the same goals.

All well put. I appreciate what you've said, perhaps most your comment about having shoulder issues. I do, too (one is separated and the other is probably arthritic), and I may do more prying than I realize. In fact, I broke a paddle a couple years ago when in windy conditions with a boat that was particularly unresponsive. Maybe it's feelings of guilt over damaging my favorite bent-shaft that cause me to emphasize proper technique. I'll need to be more careful about practicing what I preach - and perhaps less dogmatic, too.
 
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Good discussion...I think that most of us who have paddled a lot eventually develop shoulder problems. Perhaps it's from bad technique, or simple overuse. I've been treated for bicep tendonitis numerous times, and have only recently been able to come to terms with it. Decreasing the length of my paddle shaft has helped a lot. After many discussions on solotripping and Myccr, I attempted to paddle solo without correction, the way the real skilled people do, but found it to be too mindful for my style, which is essentially mindless, focusing on things around me, rather than making the proper 2 x 4, or whatever it was called. However, I'm sure with enough practice, that could become mindless as well, but I'm an old dog, happy to cruise along with my old tricks.
 
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I'm fairly young and mine are bad. It first started from racing karts. The stress on the neck and shoulder is immense in that sport (and if you don't think it is a physical sport, TRY IT, I bet you'll be winded in 3 or 4 laps and be seconds off the pace).

Canoeing for me is meant to be a way to travel around in the wild, not a way to punish myself. I like to look at birds, rocks, trees and critters and the less I have to think about keeping the boat going, the better. My walking technique is probably not as efficient as a runner but it gets me from A to B. In fact I rarely run anymore. If I need to go fast I use a bike... much easier on the knees. I have to save my knees and back for downhill skiing, which punishes those.

I gotta stop I'm sounding like an old man LOL but seriously this stuff never used to be an issue when I was in my 20's. I mostly blame my (predominantly) desk job for crippling my body. I think people who are more active at work have less issues.
 
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I have possible rotator cuff and bicep tendonitis in my right shoulder and now starting issues in my left, I run a 10 foot hydraulic shear and cut between 2-5 tons of sheet aluminum, stainless and mild steel a week. I believe my job has a lot to do with my issues, but of course, it could be the fact I am a 52 year old woman. :p
 
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